Thursday, April 26, 2012

Roadrunner solutions ... why they need a tester

Last night I was reading Anne-Marie Charrett 's article “I am the Queen of Defocus”.

It's an interesting piece – the idea being really “what is it that some testers bring to the project table”.  Almost any developers understands the technology better.  Many BAs have better understanding of what's written in requirements.

Anne-Marie in evaluating her role has said her skill lies in putting together the “big picture”, or what she calls "defocus".  Many developers can tell you how “their bit” will work, but as long as their piece works as they think, they're not really so intrigued by what's “outside the box”, because from their perspective it's not something they have to work on.  They focus on the areas they're in charge of changing.

A lot of this is understandable – you want people to pay attention to what they're doing.  But at the same time, you need a layer of security that's keen to take over from them, and look at the bigger picture, where the components delivered act in a holistic way.

From this I found myself spinning a fun analogy (sometimes I can't help myself) The Roadrunner project.

Wile E. Coyote is in no doubt an engineering genius and shows great imagination.  His business case is really rather simple “get that bird”.

To this end, he's supplied with everything her could need by the Acme Corperation, and gets to use their pre-tested commercial-off-the-shelf products to scale a suitable roadrunner-catching solution.

The problem is, Wile E. is so focused on how his solution should catch that bird, he's never able (until too late) to see the 1001 ways his solution will go wrong.  Actually watching Roadrunner cartoons is great tester-training, because we'll almost always notice things Wile E. misses, such as

  • The rock he's tied himself to is on the edge of a very dodgy precipice.

  • The trigger to chop his prey is set for Coyote and not Roadrunner weights

  • Although the firework he's strapped to will give him tremendous speed, ultimately it’s designed to go “BOOM!”.

  • His "unit testing" of his trap failed to return the trap to it's original start-up conditions.

Maybe Wile E. Coyote needs a defocused tester …